The beautiful game; a game of deep strategy, critical thinking, mental agility and the fitness to slog it out for 90 minutes with the crowds baying for blood. Wash it all down with a boozy night on the town and at this point, we very well could be talking about either football or tabletop and hobby gaming.
Yet peculiarly, the two have never really crossed paths. Until now. Thanks to the efforts of the independent tabletop game designer, Colin Webster, the worlds of football and deep strategy tabletop gaming have come careening together to form Counter Attack, the ‘bridge between the booming board gaming scene’ and the increasing interest in the strategy of football.
“There is a simultaneous and undeniable growth of interest in football tactics and strategy, as evidenced by the wealth of podcasts, websites and books on the subject, as well as a swell in column inches in national newspapers,” Webster, the game’s designer and self-confessed Inverness Caledonian Thistle fan.
Webster describes Counter Attack as the analogue adaptation of the million copy a year selling video game series, Football Manager, yet designed to be more of a sociable experience than the solo play that the video game offers fans.
The game puts players in charge of a team of footballers, each of whom has a unique skill set. Taking on the role of manager, players must decide how to best deploy the players on the pitch. Opponents will be doing the same, so it is each one’s goal to spot their weaknesses and exploit them as the action gets underway.
Over the course of 90 minutes, players will play every move on the pitch including passes, dribbles, tackles, shots, saves, and of course, goals.
“I’ve always had a love of football strategy, and even tried to make my own football board game as a kid. I played every football management game out there for more hours than I care to remember… I also love strategy board games like Risk and Pandemic,” says Webster.
“It struck me as odd that there was no football strategy board game, given how inherently strategic the sport is. So I set out to make one.”
Counter Attack was given life via a Kickstarter campaign that launched in April 2019 and went on to secure almost £15,000 in backing. The total allowed Webster to print an initial run of 5,000 copies of the game, now distributed to retailers across the globe including here in the UK, Greece, and Australia, as well as an order for 3,000 units placed by a distributor in the US.
“There are millions of fans of Football Manager around the world and that’s the audience I’ve been showing Counter Attack to,” adds Webster.
“The games have several features in common, such as the implementation of tactics and squad building. Counter Attack has sold over 5000 copies since it was released last December and most of those players are football fans, however many non-football fans have reviewed the game or otherwise reported back that they enjoy the strategic nature of it.
“One podcast called Counter Attack “the football version of Catan” and that’s very high praise.”
Such has the initial interest been in Counter Attack that Webster has since found himself in talks with numerous football teams to develop licensed versions of the tabletop game. It’s an interest that Webster simply puts down to filling a clear gap in a clear market.
“The board game scene has lacked a football strategy game,” he says. “There are some out there, but they either play like Monopoly or are far too simplistic. I wanted to bring a serious strategy game to the table, and I hope that’s what I have achieved with Counter Attack.”
Webster is currently on the look out for distribution partners for the game.
“I would love to walk into a store someday and see Counter Attack sitting on the shelf,” he says.
“Better still, to see it as a main part of a promotion when a World Cup or FA Cup Final is on the horizon, if only so I can make sure that Scotland qualify.”
If retailers would like to get in touch, they can contact Colin Webster at firstname.lastname@example.org